The Pokémon franchise has included popular video games, card games, and children’s cartoons since the mid-1990s. The latest installment, “Pokémon Go,” has met with astounding success, spiking parent company Nintendo’s stock price and setting records for a mobile app download.
However, the game’s popularity has also quickly raised concerns that its legion of players might present a risk to others by paying more attention to what’s happening on their screens than in the world around them.
The critical component to the success of “Pokémon Go” is the clever way the game interacts with the real world through the use of augmented reality, a technique that overlays gameplay features such as maps and characters onto the real world as seen through the camera of a player’s smartphone or other mobile device. This technique isn’t new, but “Pokémon Go” has found a sweet spot of playability and popularity that no similar app has before.
Unfortunately, it’s been so successful that some players have forgotten that even though they’re playing a game, they’re still walking—or driving—through the real world. And in the real world, walking into traffic while distracted by a game hurts. Players began reporting injuries (from their own carelessness) almost as soon as the game had been released. Here in the Lone Star State, the most creative self-induced injury so far might be the teen who was so engrossed in the game that he stepped on and was bitten by a venomous snake; fortunately, he was not seriously injured.
Public safety agencies are very concerned with the problem and have been trying to stay ahead of it. The police department in Irving, for example, released this so-bad-it’s-funny public service message to remind gamers to play with the safety of themselves and others in mind.
Walking into a tree or twisting an ankle are minor concerns compared to another risk: driving while playing. It was predicted early in the app’s life that overeager “Pokémon Go” players might cause car crashes, and it wasn’t long before this came to pass. Within the first two weeks of the game’s release, wrecks in upstate New York, Wisconsin, and Washington State were all attributed (usually by the drivers themselves) to playing the game while driving. One distracted driver was even caught on video crashing into a parked police cruiser in Baltimore.
If you believe that Texans will somehow behave better, you’d best think twice. “Pokémon Go” has proven just as popular here as in the rest of the country, to the point where Houston Pokémon enthusiasts have collected advice on the best—and the worst—places to play the game. In fact, we saw our first “Pokémon Go”-related wreck less than a week after the game was released. A player left his car parked in the street as he chased a digital monster. No one was injured in that crash, and so far no one is known to have been killed in a crash blamed on the game, but many people fear that it’s only a matter of time before that changes.
Distracted driving has already been on the rise for years now. By conservative estimates, drivers who are fiddling with their radio, deep in conversation with others in the car, texting or making a phone call, or—unfortunately—using an app such as “Pokémon Go” are already responsible for more than 400,000 crash injuries and over 3,000 crash fatalities every year. Those numbers will probably only continue to increase.
When you or someone close to you has been the victim of a car crash caused by a distracted driver, it’s important to seek out an attorney who has experience with these issues and knows which steps to take to best prepare your case. Denena Points, PC understands the issues in car crashes caused by distracted drivers. Give us a call today at 713-807-9500 or contact us online for a free consultation to discuss your case.